Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Lesson 7: Bringing in the Kingdom: Postmillennialism from a partial-preterist perspective (part 7)

Postmillennialism and Creation

Postmillennial optimism begins with the creation account. In the biblical account of creation, we immediately see that God has a purpose for creation. He created man in His own image (Gen 1:26) and man's purpose is to glorify God by subduing the earth and having dominion over it. (Gen. 1:26-30). When creation was completed, God proclaimed that it was very good (Gen 1:31).

Old Testament Considerations

Postmillennialists argue that the common thread of Old Testament prophecy is victory. For example, there are numerous passage that speak of the glory of the Lord filling the earth and all the nations worshipping Yahweh (e.g., Num 14:21, Ps 86:9, 97:5,; Is 2:2-3, Zech 9:10). Charles Hodge looks at:

22 "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. (Is. 45:22-23)

and argues that "the true religion shall prevail over the whole earth. Jehovah shall everywhere be recognized a worshipped as the only true God" 174

In Isaiah’s vision of the new heavens and new earth:

22 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD , "so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. (Is. 67:22-23)

we see a vast difference in interpretation. Premillennialists view this as a description of a new material order of the universe inaugurated at Christ’s return. Post-millennialists see it as a moral and spiritual revolution in human affairs fostered by the gospel through the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit. 175

The Psalms

The Psalms contain some of the most important passages postmillennialists look to for support.

7 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD : He said to me, "You are my Son ; today I have become your Father. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You will rule them with an iron scepter ; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (Ps. 2:7-9 )

This psalm of victory is often used in the New Testament in reference to Christ at His baptism (Matt. 3:17), transfiguration (Matt. 17:5), and resurrection (Acts 13:33).

Time does not permit us to examine all the promises of victory found in the Psalms. See, for example, Ps. 22:27-28; 47:6-9; 67:1-7; 72:8-11; 72:17; 86:9-10.

We will, however, take a moment to look at one the most eschatologically important passages in the bible:

1 The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." 2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. 3 Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. 7 He will drink from a brook beside the way ; therefore he will lift up his head. (Ps. 110:1-7 )

In the New Testament, Psalm 110 is cited or alluded to more than any other Old Testament text (e.g. Matt. 22:41-45; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44; Acts 2:33-35; 1 Cor. 5 15-25; Heb 1:13; 5:6; 7:17; 7:21; 10:13).

Psalm 110 is clearly a prophecy about Jesus, not a reference to David, who was never a priest. It leaves no doubt about the outcome of the battle, indicating a complete subjugation of the enemies of Christ.

The Psalm emphatically demonstrates that it is not necessary, as premillennialists would have it, for Christ to be physically present on earth in order to conquer His enemies. The Lord is sitting (indicating his sacrificial work is complete) at the right hand of God (in heaven) until His enemies are defeated, indicating a work in progress. The fact that the Psalm is now in effect is indicated by its numerous New Testament references and in its teaching (affirmed in Hebrews 7) of Christ as the antitype to Melchizadek, who was identified as both king and priest (Gen. 14:18), who blessed Abram after he defeated the four kings.

He is perfectly able to accomplish this from the right hand of God. Verse 2 illustrates the oneness of the Lord and the King. In verse 3, we see a poetic description of Christ leading a volunteer army into battle. Verses 5-7 describe the enthroned King achieving world conquest. 176

To postmillennialists, Psalm 110, like Revelation 20 to premillennialists, is a determinative passage. It teaches, when combined with its New Testament counterparts, of Christ's present reign in heaven where he will remain until His church, through His power, has achieved a total victory.

More OT promises and NT anticipation to come...

174 Charles Hodges, Systematic Theology, 1872, 3:800.
175 Grenz, The Millennial Maze, p. 78.
176 Mathison, Postmillennialism an Eschatology of Hope, pp. 80-81.

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